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THE MIDWEST AFRICAN SERIES, DAY 9

MONROVIA

General Butt Naked. Monrovia wouldn’t have been at the top of my list when it comes to West Africa but as soon as I heard I could meet an old war lord I was dying to visit.

MURDERED 20,000 CIVILIANS, RECRUITED 100s OF CHILD SOLDIERS AND ATE BABIES BEFORE GOING INTO BATTLE

This is not any war lord however, this was the infamous general butt naked. It might sound like a bit of a sketch but it’s true, the man would have gone into battle with nothing but his massive weapon…

WHERE IS MONROVIA?

Monrovia

GENERAL BUTT NAKED

Unless you look into the depths of the internet, little can be found about Joshua Milton Blahyi. However, if you look hard enough you will see a pretty shady past. GBN was an old war lord who plagued the country during the civil war in the 1990s. He garnered troops with his charisma and promise of safety and security during a dangerous period for all.

Some of the atrocities he committed are well beyond your wildest nightmares. Men would have often been killed on sight, for fear they were already part of a rebel gang, women would be raped, kids given a concoction of drink and drugs and armed with guns and babies often eaten as part of a pre battle ritual.

General Butt Naked

DAILY INFO….

  • HOTEL –
    Embassy Suites (8)
  • ATTRACTIONS –
    General Butt Naked
    Providence Island
    Waterside
    West Point
    Ducor Hotel

A NEW MISSION

Now the war lord has changed course and operates a rehab centre for child soldiers and anyone affected by drugs use, a major issue in Liberia. Here they are kept for around 18months, where they are feed, housed and put to work, but unfortunately aren’t able to leave the confines of the compound.

They are currently in the process of extending the facilities to include a gymnasium, basketball court, and more dorms to increase the numbers to 300.

General Butt Naked

THE PEOPLE

Fortunately I got a chance to speak with some of the guys here and they were keen to show me their rooms. I think they like the novelty of new people coming here, cannot imagine being stuck in a compound cold turkey for 18months. Currently there are about 12 to a room but that will soon change with the addition of bunkbeds, and will then become 30 to a room. A lot of people but it also means more people getting help.

General Butt Naked

FORGIVENESS

I did try and ask about his past but in fairness he probably prefers to move on. It’s hard to know what is the right thing to do. After the war there was a motion that came out that allowed everyone to admit their wrong doings for Amnesty and thats how he has so far avoided getting sentenced. Do you sentence a guy to life and in the process lose what he has built, a clinic that helps those very much in need. I appreciate it doesn’t have to be one or the other but either way it’s not a decision I’d like to make.

General Butt Naked

PROVIDENCE ISLAND

On our way to West Point slum we stopped at what is probably Liberia’s most historic site. Providence island is where the slaves were repatriated when freed in America after the abolition of slavery. They would be shipped across the Atlantic and disembarked on this tiny island to begin their new life. Another bribe payed here.

  FACTS ABOUT LIBERIA:
  • Liberia, the sole Black state in Africa never colonized, has preserved its sovereignty unlike many African nations.
  • Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic since 1821, was founded by the American Colonization Society as a homeland for freed African-American slaves, making it a unique historical entity with land acquired for this purpose.
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, the first woman elected head of state in Africa, served as president from 2006 to 2018. Notably, she won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent advocacy for women’s rights and peace-building efforts.

WEST POINT

West Point is Liberia’s biggest slum and an incredible network of alleys and passage ways which 70,000 people call their home. As you could expect you could buy anything here, from burned DVDs to sweets made from soil. I thought this was a joke but this stuff is genuinely taken from the ground and sold directly to the customer. Will be interesting to see how my stomach takes it!

Going through the village there are cinemas (not your usual cinema), business centre for documents and internet and some low key bars which we missed out on – Dayo from Ivory Coast wouldn’t be pleased!

  ABOUT LIBERIA:
  • LANGUAGE – Liberian English
  • HELLO – Ya Hello-o
  • HOW TO CHEERS – Cheers! Good Health!
  • BEVERAGE OF CHOICE – Alcohol
  • POPULAR SPORT – Soccer
  • STAPLE DIET – Rice

DUCOR HOTEL

At Monrovia’s highest point you will see the Ducor Hotel, an old 5* palace built in the 60s and then destroyed during the civil war. This is a reminder that Liberia was once a prospering country until the proverbial shit hit the fan. Incredible views but an absolute bollocks to get into.

As Liberia had owed a significant amount of money to Libya (who even runs Libya?) they decided to gift some of its assets instead of trying to come up with the funds. So they swiftly moved the title into that of the Libyan African Company, who I assume will renovate it and receive a return from the operation of the hotel.

But anyway, because it is now owned by this company, official permissions are now required to gain entry. In the end we got in but were forbidden to take photos or videos of myself in the hotel… bizarre.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I thought that Monrovia was going to be one of the least exciting, most chilled but it was a good surprise, quite enjoyed the chaos.

NEXT UP

The gold and diamond mines of Sierra Leone!! Click to read.

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
164/229

This post is part of The Midwest African Series, for the entire series click here or for episode 1, click here.

To watch the video of my trip, head to my highlights on my Instagram.

Question Time

  • Would you like to visit a war lord?
  • Do you like the flag of Liberia?
  • What is your favourite country in West Africa?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

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THE FIRST BORDER OF WEST AFRICA
DIAMOND & GOLD MINES OF SIERRA LEONE

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